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'Internet of Everything is 2016's big bang theory'

Internet of Everything is 2016's big bang theory.

2016 will be the year of the Internet of Everything, as technology characterising big data, cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will gain maturity.

This is according to Professor Barry Dwolatzky, director of the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), who anticipates a solid impact from big data and AI as a result of the hype over the past two years.

Gartner says by the year 2020, 25 billion devices will be generating data on a variety of subjects – and while there will be a plethora of data, making sense of it will present a challenge.

And the challenge, according to the Professor, is figuring out how to use the information produced by all the devices and associated technology. "I would like to think that there is an effort to utilise the data from smart devices and sensors companies have started using on a daily basis. This simple data that is collected has to be of more value to a business, especially as it increases and the real meaning of big data becomes evident. It is not just the amount or size of data, but also the different sets of data that has to be integrated."

He refers to the Fitbit device, by Discovery, as an example of the importance of AI and how it facilitates the analysis of information and intelligent use by connecting the different sets of data.

"A device that motivates Vitality members to stay active, live better and to reach fitness goals by counting steps taken, calculating calories burned, and distances walked etc. It would be so valuable for Discovery to use the information gained from the devices and use this within the health insurance industry to possibly cross-sell other products and services, and gain a better understanding of their customer."

An exciting phase

Businesses this year have a significant opportunity to use the power of computers to extract intelligence out of lower level data in an automated way and use it intelligently. This is the premise of Professor Dwolatzky's argument.

He adds that South Africa is no different to other countries around the world in terms of the use and growth of IoT. "We may see some localised innovation, but in general we are experiencing the same level of disruption from IoT as other countries. What this leads to remains to be seen," he continues.

The warning to local businesses is that the results of AI and big data will be such that the level of disruption to business will force traditional industries to either reinvent or shut their doors.

The Professor believes that were the South African market to receive the support of innovation hubs, like Thsimologong, there is every possibility of an M-Pesa-like disruptor to enter the market.

"The best example and one I like to use is that of Uber and what it will do to the motor vehicle and car rental industry. In a year's time, will people even want to rent a car of buy one or will they simply Uber everywhere?," Professor Dwolatzky.

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